White House stonewalls questions about Obamacare repair

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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White House spokesman Jay Carney stonewalled numerous media questions Tuesday about the rushed and secret efforts to repair the crippled Obamacare website.

The secrecy is spurring concerns that the White House hasn’t formally hired the unnamed private-sector and academic experts who are said to be working to repair President Barack Obama’s greatest expansion of government power.

Carney also declined to explain the problems that have plagued the website or predict when it would be ready to use.

Unless Obama can sign up roughly 7 million people by March, including many young and healthy people, the Obamacare system may undergo a financial heart attack once the full cost of older patients is calculated.

Carney repeatedly told reporters to ask the Department of Health and Humans Services for answers to questions about the White House’s top priority.

When asked by one reporter if his questions would be answered by HHS, Carney simply told him to ask HHS.

“The website that is of considerable focus, understandably, is run by HHS,” Carney said. “They have a team in place that’s working on it. They have brought in individuals as part of this tech surge to help them deal with the problems on the website. They are the people best situated to answer the questions you have.”

“I would refer you to them about what questions they can answer,” he said.

Carney also tried to shut down the questions by shifting the focus on the possible benefits of the Obamacare program.

“What’s important to note is that they are trying to fix these problems,” he said.

“The struggles [Americans] may be having with the website pale in comparison to the struggles they’ve had lacking affordable health insurance,” he said.

“That’s what this policy is about. It’s not about who is to blame for glitches in a website. What we need to focus on is fixing those problems, making the information that the American people want available to them in an efficient way,” not to play Monday-morning quarterback, he said.

Carney also tried to divert reporters by criticizing the GOP’s effort to stop or revamp the hugely Obamacare takeover of the nation’s health sector.

Republicans are “rooting for failure” and are committing “sabotage,” and also “shut the government down” to stop people from getting health care, he said.

Carney did provide some very basic information about the repair effort, without identifying any problems or faults.

Carney outlined a few partial fixes to the system. They include buttons allowing people to estimate their Obamacare subsidy, and to see basic price information about the pre-paid health programs that are being established across the country.

He announced the temporary appointment of a former top official to help guide the repair program. The official, Jeff Zients, has worked for Obama on numerous tasks, and is expected to serve as a manager for several months.

Zients is a former management consultant who worked for Gov. Mitt Romney’s Bain & Company investment firm.

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